This course will explore the history of Christianity by focusing on snapshots of it in different times and places, by attending to its diversity over time, by encountering contrasting historical figures in its history, by asking what “salvation” meant and what “mission” consisted of in each of these times and places, and by pondering how these historical forms of Christianity may inform our faith and praxis today.
Over the seven weeks we will get to know the early Jesus movement, Constantine’s imperial church, missionaries among Germanic “barbarians,” the culture-dominating Christianity of the Middle Ages with its mysticism and monasticism, the marriage of church and state in Henrician and Elizabethan England, the political tensions within Christianity during industrialization, the hot and cold wars from 1800 to today, and whether this history is our “heritage” or just so much “baggage.”
This course is suitable as an introduction or a refresher from a distinct line of inquiry. In addition to the basic reading, reflecting and writing, suggestions for further personal reading, on-line viewing, and travel will be recommended.
Instructor: Dr. Bradley Peterson
Brad Peterson is a historian of Christianity with a special interest in the reformations and renewals of the Western church in the Early Modern Era. His doctoral research at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California, focused on the vision of monastic life that survived among Protestants of the 16th Century. He has a growing interest in the history of the diaconate. He teaches for the Episcopal School for Deacons at Berkeley as well as for CALL. He has led workshops for the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, the Sierra Pacific Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and various local churches. He contributed the article on Luther and monasticism in Luther – A Christian between Reforms and Modernity (1517-2017), a project of the Foundation for Religious Sciences John XXIII, Bologna, Italy. Brad also serves on the Commission on Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of California and on the board of the Association of Episcopal Deacons. He identifies himself as a “vocational layman.”